Results tagged ‘ Austin Kearns ’

Baseball and bad decisions…

 

A swing and a miss, another miss, yet another miss…

This morning, I saw a post on the MLB Trade Rumors website (http://www.MLBTradeRumors.com) that asked the poll question of which MLB team had the best draft in 2002?  Of all the examples shown, no Yankees were anywhere to be found.  For a draft that started with Bryan Bullington and B.J. Upton, there was some great talent uncovered in the 2002 draft.  Jon Lester, Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, Prince Fielder, Cole Hamels, Joey Votto and a guy who would eventually find his way to the Bronx, Brian McCann, were among the great choices by their respective teams.  But sadly, not a single Yankee selection stuck that year.

Number 26 selection Phil Coke is a major leaguer but with the Detroit Tigers.  He had his moments in the Bronx but was never anything special and was sent to the Tigers as part of the Curtis Granderson-Austin Jackson trade.

But removing Coke, there are 50 rounds of names that Yankee Stadium never heard from.  I really do not recognize any of the names outside of the first round selection and that’s only because he was later the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns (Brandon Weeden).

I know that there are many sad tales among the 2002 draft picks, like 2nd round pick Alan Bomer, a pitcher, who reinjured his shoulder after a previous injury several years earlier, bringing an end to his major league hopes.

But it’s also a testament to the drafting ability of major league teams and 2002 was clearly not a good vintage for the Yankees.  I know the team’s re-focus on the minor league system didn’t occur until a few years later but hopefully barren draft years like 2002 are a thing of the past.  But looking ahead a few years, it’s not too pretty.

2003 really wasn’t much better with top pick third baseman Eric Duncan long gone from baseball.  The only name that stands out to me from that draft is Washington Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard.

2004 was the year the Yankees selected pitcher Phil Hughes and can only wonder what could have been.  Time will tell if he can fulfill his promise in the Twin Cities or if he was simply one of the most overhyped young players of our time.

For the Yankees, solid draft picks do not appear until 2005 which Brett Gardner and Austin Jackson were chosen.  Interestingly enough, the Yankees also chose pitcher Doug Fister that year but he opted to return to college for his final year, and was taken by the Seattle Mariners the next year.  Granted, Fister is currently on the Nationals’ DL, but he’d certainly look good in the Yankees rotation about now.

In 2006, the Yankees made some good choices, but it’s rather humorous that the first round pick went to Joba Chamberlain, a journeyman reliever for the Detroit Tigers, while current Yankees closer, David Robertson was selected in the 17th round.  Ian Kennedy and Zach McAllister were both chosen after Chamberlain, and they are solid starting pitchers for the San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians, respectively.  Dellin Betances was also taken that year and after years of hype, he’s finally contributing as a force in the Yankees bullpen.  Mark Melancon, currently the closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates due to Jason Grilli’s injury, was also a draft selection.

Of the decisions the Yankees made regarding trades, the one I didn’t like was dumping McAllister.  He went to Cleveland in 2010 for Austin Kearns who only stayed in the Bronx for the remainder of the season.  That trade felt like the foolish ones that we had grown accustomed to in the 1970’s and 80’s.  McAllister is having a very solid year for the Indians and is another guy who would have looked great in the Yankees rotation.

I will never find fault with the decision to trade Ian Kennedy even though he almost won the Cy Young after leaving the Yankees.  I just never found him to be a good fit in New York.

2007 was another disappointing draft year as the Yankees really only have catcher Austin Romine, currently at AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre, to show for it.  Top pick Andrew Brackman was coming off a major injury at the time of the selection and was never able to find his way back.

As I advance to 2008, it’s disappointing to see how poor, outside of 2006, the draft has been for the Yankees.  Atop the list in ’08 is a pitcher the Yankees were unable to sign and who is now entrenched in the starting rotation for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Gerrit Cole.  Talk about another guy who would have been a brilliant option for the Yankees rotation.  What could have been…

This really shows how incredibly difficult it is to determine those who will be able to achieve results and success at the Major League level.  It also shows how many people fail to find their way for whatever reasons.

It’s a small wonder that the Yankees have had to spend so much in the free agent market to ensure the team remains competitive.  In a statement of the obvious, the Yankees would be smart to improve the quality of their scouting and development to ensure that the older players are replaced by younger, cheaper talent with high ceilings.

The Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals are solid teams because of their drafting ability.  For the Yankees, they are successful despite it.  I get why owner Hal Steinbrenner believes in the power of the farm system.  This is not rocket science.  Sustainability will only be maintained through youth and controlling costs.

Stupid is as stupid does…

The fans of the Boston Red Sox took great delight when Michael Pineda was tossed from a Yankees-Red Sox game last week due to the blatant smear of pine tar on his neck.  After the fiasco caused during his previous start against the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium (“brown dirt”), he had to have known he would be under the magnifying glass.  Yet, he risked detection by continuing the use of pine tar and ended up applying a more generous amount than he had intended to.  So, Boston manager John Farrell had absolutely no choice but to call out Pineda.  This is one instance where I felt the Red Sox were 100% correct in a controversial decision involving the Yankees.  Pineda’s 10-game suspension hurts the Yankees, at a time when they’ve already lost starter Ivan Nova for the season due to an elbow injury that requires Tommy John surgery.

For a rotation that looked so strong and full of promise for a few starts, the Yankees now have to replace both Nova and Pineda, plus the top of the rotation has been questionable at times with CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda.  The only source of consistency has been Masahiro Tanaka, who faces an incredibly difficult challenge today against the Los Angeles Angels and the likes of Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. 

Baseball is a team-first sport and Pineda made a “me-first” decision.  I hope that he learns a valuable lesson during his suspension and comes back with choices that are for the good of the team.

For the record, I do believe that Major League Baseball should allow pine tar to some degree for gripping purposes only in colder temps.  But until the rules are changed, it’s a violation and should be handled accordingly.  Baseball has been tolerant of discreet behavior regarding its use, but to blatantly violate the policy warrants the appropriate punishment until such a time the rules are changed.

 

–Scott

 

Finally, A Series Win!…


Confidence restored…



 


After the series opener loss to the Detroit Tigers,
I was a bit dismayed.  The Yankees, the
team that started the year on a consecutive series win streak, hadn’t won a
series since late July after splitting a four game set with the Royals in
Kansas City.  They returned to the Bronx
and promptly lost a disappointing game to the Tigers with Detroit ace Justin
Verlander looming the next day. 

 

Fortunately, the Yanks beat Verlander and went on
to the win the next two games afterwards to take 3 of 4.  The wins were definitely part of the Robinson
Cano Show as he homered in the three consecutive wins.  Also, the bat of Curtis Granderson has come
to life since the adjustments he made with hitting coach Kevin Long.  I was not an immediate believer in Austin
Kearns, but he has steadily begun to make an impact.  With Alex Rodriguez nursing a sore calf and
Lance Berkman on the DL, it was imperative for some of the lesser known guys on
the roster to begin carrying their weight. 
It couldn’t have happened at a better time as the Yankees are trying to
stave off the Tampa Bay Rays who they were tied with at the beginning of today’s
games. 



robinson-cano-new-york-yankees-819.jpg.JPG

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images


 

With September right around the corner, I am
concerned about pitching.  The only
certainty is ace CC Sabathia.  With A.J.
Burnett, you’re never really sure what you are going to get.  Javier Vazquez has been pitching poorly
lately with reduced velocity.  Dustin
Moseley is never going to overwhelm you, and Phil Hughes is rapidly approaching
an innings limitation.  Andy Pettitte
remains on the DL after a setback, so there are a series of question marks with
the starting rotation.  It is fortunate
that the bullpen has begun to gel with Kerry Wood, Joba Chamberlain, David
Robertson and Boone Logan pitching very effectively.  The long men, Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre,
have performed well in their roles.  The
Yankees certainly have the bats to win the division, but I obviously have less
confidence in the pitching.  If healthy,
they’d be among the league’s elite.  But
in their current state, I’d have to give the advantage to the Tampa Bay
Rays.  As for the Red Sox, I can only
hope that Josh Beckett and John Lackey continue their season-long
struggles.  With their injuries this
year, it’s amazing that they’ve remained within striking distance so they are
certainly a threat as the page gets ready to flip to September. 

 

But for now, all is well in the Bronx.  If the Yankees can get on a roll and win a
few series over the next couple of weeks, they should be in great shape for the
stretch run despite their issues and challenges.


–Scott



What Happened Tuesday Night?…

 

Mo showed why he is great…



Perfection.JPG

 


A day after losing a game in walk-off fashion to
the Texas Rangers, Mariano Rivera bounced back to save the Yankees’ 7-6 comeback
victory over the Rangers.  So many
relievers have a tough time “forgetting yesterday”, but not Mo.  After allowing a lead-off triple to Elvis
Andrus, he retired the next three batters to strand Andrus at third with what
would have been the tying run. 

 

When Austin Kearns bounced into a double play with
the bases loaded to end the top half of the 8th inning with the
score 6-5 Texas, I thought the Yankees may have exhausted their chances for
victory.  However, or rather , fortunately,
Marcus Thames proved me wrong.  He
homered in the 8th, and drove in the eventual winning run in the 9th.  Not bad for a guy who gets mentioned as an
afterthought when you name off Yankee players.  



Yankees Rangers Baseball

AP


I am a bit disappointed with Kearns, who has failed to hit in key
situations since his arrival in the Bronx. 
But to his credit, he did make a great shoestring catch in the 9th
in helping Mo to the save. 

 

The other two recent acquisitions, Kerry Wood and
Lance Berkman, both played roles in Wednesday’s win.  Wood pitched the 7th and 8th
innings in scoreless relief to pick up his first win as a Yankee.  Berkman drove in a run in the 7th
on a ground rule double as the Yankees chipped away at what once had been a 6-1
Texas lead.  Berkman, it should be noted,
was the only Yankees starter who did not strike out on a night when 17 Yankees
did, tying the dubious franchise record. 
Nick Swisher, in particular, was an awful 0-for-5, with 4 SO’s.

 

Javier Vazquez, who had recently been diagnosed
with a “dead arm”, was very ineffective in the match-up against the almost
Yankee, Cliff Lee.  Javy was out after 4 1/3
innings after he gave up 6 runs.  I am
not quite sure what it will take to get Javy back to the level of pitching he
was at last month, but he needs to improve if the Yankees intend to hold off
the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox.  



0812javy.JPG

Matthew Emmons/US Presswire



Meanwhile, Cliff Lee was solid in striking out 11 Yankees although the Yankees were able to score against him late as he gave up a total of 4 runs through 6 1/3 innings.  I remain hopeful that Lee will be the Yankees prime target in the free agent market after the season. 



The Rangers turn to Cliff Lee to get a mini sweep over the New York Yankees tonight on ESPN. 

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images



The Yankees were fortunate to get a win out of a
two game series that looked like it would be a sweep for Texas.  The Rays lost to the Detroit Tigers, but the
Boston Red Sox steamrolled over the team that gave the Yankees and Rays so much
trouble, the Toronto Blue Jays.  For all
of the key injuries Boston has suffered this year, they are within striking
distance at just 5 games back.



Bill Hall (right), who had two home runs, celebrates his second blast with teammate Ryan Kalish in the fourth inning.

Mark Blinch/Reuters

 


The series in Texas was tough.  It started with news that hot-hitting Mark
Teixeira would remain in New York with his wife, who gave birth to their third
child, William Charles.  I hated to see
the removal of Teixeira’s bat from the lineup, and it was compounded when
Robinson Cano couldn’t start the first game of the series due to illness
(although he did later pinch hit and entered the game as a replacement at 2nd
late in the game despite his weakened condition).  Jorge Posada also missed the game, so those
were three huge voids in the lineup. 

 

The Yankees now head for Kansas City for a
four-game set against the Royals. 
Teixeira will rejoin the team, and should be in the lineup tonight.  On paper, tonight’s game looks like a
mismatch (CC Sabathia versus Bruce Chen), however, the Yankees have not been
playing great ball lately.  They missed a
great opportunity to bury both the Rays the Red Sox and couldn’t do it.  Hopefully, the team can catch fire soon and
put the pressure on the other teams instead of carrying the weight on their own
shoulders.


–Scott



 

 

 

 

 

Back to the Bronx to Re-Group…

 

Despite the new additions, the Yankees lost the
latest series to the Tampa Bay Rays…



New Addition.JPG

 


Saturday was an exciting day when Robinson Cano
homered in the top of the 9th inning to give the Yanks the go-ahead
run and ultimately the win.  Earlier in
the day, the trade with the Houston Astros for first baseman Lance Berkman was
finalized (sending minor leaguers, Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes, to
Houston).  In the final hour before the 4
pm Eastern deadline, the Yankees made another trade with the Cleveland Indians
for reliever Kerry Wood (for a player to be named later or cash).



Robinson Cano gives the Yankees the win with a solo home run in the ninth inning, while new acquisition Lance Berkman (below) goes 0-for-4 in his Yankees debut.

Carlson/AP

 

But Sunday, the new additions weren’t the
difference makers as the Yankees couldn’t get any offense going against James
Shields, and fell to the Rays, 3-0.  The
loser was CC Sabathia.



New York Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland (58) and catcher Jorge Posada (20) talk with starter CC Sabathia as the Bombers fall to the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-0.

Steve Nesius/AP

 


Alex Rodriguez sat today, although he did pinch hit
in the 7th inning and struck out. 
So, he remains at 599 home runs. 



0801arod.JPG

Jeff Griffith/US Presswire

 

Both Austin Kearns and Lance Berkman started the
game (Kearns in left, in place of Brett Gardner, and Berkman, at first in place
of Mark Teixeira who moved to DH). 
Kearns was 0-for-2 and Berkman was 1-for-4 but at least the latter
finally broke through with his first Yankee hit.  

0801berkman.JPG



Kerry Wood relieved CC Sabathia, and struck out three batters in an inning of work.  However, he did leave the game with the bases loaded in the 8th after two walks and a single. 



kerry-wood-yankees-080110.jpg

AP

 

As for the acquisitions, I do like the trade for Lance Berkman.  Reading the accounts of the trade, it was obvious that he had a difficult time leaving the only team he has ever known, but I think he’ll like New York as an alternative.  Batting behind Derek Jeter, and in front of Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Robinson Cano has to be an ideal spot for any batter.  The experience should re-charge Berkman and give us a great final chapter to a great career.  As for Austin Kearns, I am not sure what I think.  He was impressive when he first came up with the Cincinnati Reds, but he’s been a disappointment in Washington and Cleveland.  He carried the Indians early this season but he couldn’t sustain it.  I realize that he won’t be a starter for the Yanks, and perhaps he’ll be ideally suited for his role with the team.  But I couldn’t help but think how much I would have preferred Melky Cabrera.  As for Wood, this one has to be all about manager Joe Girardi and his knowledge of his former Cubs teammate.  There is no doubt that Kerry has the talent, but his health has been an issue.  I really want Kerry to succeed.  I first heard about Kerry when I was living in Texas and I worked with a woman who’s son played high school baseball with Kerry at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas.  They used to rave all the time about how great Kerry was.  Joe Girardi caught Wood for three years in Chicago, so if anyone knows him, it’s Joe. 




Kerry Wood relieved CC Sabathia, and struck
out three batters in an inning of work. 
However, he did leave the game with the bases loaded in the 8th
after two walks and a single. 



kerry-wood-yankees-080110.jpg

AP



The team now heads back to the Bronx to face the
Toronto Blue Jays.  Hopefully, the team
and Alex Rodriguez can get untracked at home and put some distance between them
and the Rays now that the lead has dwindled to just one game. 


I was reading Ken Rosenthal’s article that the
Yankees apparently tried to work a three-way deal with Texas Rangers that would
have brought Boston’s Mike Lowell back to New York.  I would have been in favor of the move as
Mike would have made a great backup for Alex Rodriguez and an occasional DH platoon
partner with Lance Berkman.  I am sure
that Brian Cashman will continue to push for a backup third baseman before the
end of August.  It would be nice if it
involved Lowell…

 



I am still amazed that a team in bankruptcy, the
Rangers, could emerge as the media-appointed “winner” of the trading
deadline.  Obviously, their acquisitions,
including Cliff Lee and Jorge Cantu, stood out, however, I am not sure I fully
understand how those decisions were made given the Rangers financial
situation. 

 

I thought it was interesting that the Los Angeles
Dodgers acquired two of Joe Torre’s former players with the Yankees, Octavio
Dotel and Ted Lilly.  The Yanks weren’t
interested in Dotel, but Torre obviously was. 
I wish the Yanks could have found a way to bring Lilly back to New York,
but it was clear the Yanks weren’t interested in giving up any top talent (nor
should they have).

 

As I was writing this post, I was watching the San
Francisco Giants beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 2-0.  Hats off to Matt Cain for his first win
against the dreaded rival Dodgers.  Cain
went 7 2/3 innings, and gave up only 4 hits and no runs.  He struck out 7, and walked just one Dodger
batter.  An impressive win for an unsung
hero on the Giants pitching staff.



 


Here’s hoping that a new day will bring a Yankees’
victory…

 

–Scott

Too Close For Comfort…


Such a great start…



 


Such a disappointing middle and end…



Ouch.JPG

 


Friday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays in
St. Petersburg, FL, started so strong, but then the team’s offense
flatlined.  After a Derek Jeter single
and a Nick Swisher home run to start the game, the Yankees could only manage
two more hits (singles by Robinson Cano) the rest of the way against winner
Wade Davis and the Rays bullpen. 

 

Similarly, Phil Hughes started strong and it looked
like he was cruising with a 2-0 lead until the bottom of the 6th
inning when a three-run home run by Matt Joyce put the Rays up, 3-2 (which
proved to be the final score).



A-Rod still looking for 600 as Yanks lose to Rays, 3-2

Bridget Wentworth/The Star Ledger

 


Alex Rodriguez was a huge disappointment…again…as
he went 0-for-4 in his extended quest for 600 home runs.  The only way that A-Rod could have gotten a
hit would have been for Mark Teixeira to smack him.  I’ll be glad when he finally does hit #600
because this is getting painful watching the pathetic at-bats. 



A-Rod still looking for 600 as Yanks lose to Rays, 3-2

Bridget Wentworth/The Star Ledger

 

The Rays found themselves just a game out of first
place, with Matt Garza on the mound Saturday against Javier Vazquez.  Garza threw a no-hitter against the Detroit
Tigers in his last outing, so he’ll be looking to extend the scoreless, hitless
streak against the Yankees.  Hopefully,
Javy will be up for the challenge. 

 

With less than 24 hours to the trading deadline,
the Yankees finally pulled off a couple of deals, neither of which address the
more pressing needs (bullpen help and a backup third baseman to spell A-Rod).  Granted, GM Brian Cashman is not finished,
but so far, he has added a DH and a part-time left fielder to the mix.  I had wondered who would be the first player
of the post-Boss Steinbrenner era.  The
award goes to first baseman Lance Berkman of the Houston Astros.  He agreed to the deal that would send him to
New York for a couple of minor leaguers, but as a 10-and-5 player, the Yankees
must wait 24 hours before the deal can be finalized.


The thing that ate Lance Berkman, really.

 


The Yankees later acquired outfielder Austin Kearns
from the Cleveland Indians, so, technically, he’ll arrive on the Yankees roster
sooner than Berkman. 



Cleveland Indians beat Nationals, 7-2

 

Berkman effectively replaces injured Nick Johnson
as the full-time designated hitter.  Nick,
who is still on the DL due to a wrist injury, is nearing his return, but he
obviously cannot be relied upon given his injury history (something the Yankees
should have recognized when they signed him last fall).  Berkman is a good friend of Andy Pettitte’s
from their days in Houston so I am sure that played in Berkman’s decision to
join the Yanks after nixing previous deals like the one that would have sent
him to Anaheim as a replacement for Kendry Morales. 

 

The 34-year-old Berkman has begun the downward
descent of his career, and is batting .245 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI’s.   It is
the Yankees’ hope that the excitement of a pennant chase will energize
Berkman.  The Yankees sent minor leaguers
Mark Melancon, a reliever, and Jimmy Paredes, an infielder, to Houston in the
deal.  Melancon, 25,  was once being groomed as an eventual
successor for Mariano Rivera, but he’s failed to achieve his potential. 

 

The other new Yankee is former Reds, Nationals and
Indians outfielder Austin Kearns.  Kearns
was in the Tribe’s lineup tonight and had a couple of hits until he was lifted
in the 7th for a pinch runner. 
Kearns will move from a starting role to a part-time one with the Yanks,
and he’ll most likely start in left when Brett Gardner slides to center in
relief of Curtis Granderson against certain lefthanders.  Kearns is batting .272 with 8 HR’s and 42 RBI’s. 

 

Both players will probably be long gone by Spring
Training 2011, but for now, they have a chance to play a major role in the
Yankees’ drive for the play-offs. 

 

The Yankees do not plan to be quiet before the end
of the trading deadline as they are rumored to be one of several teams involved
in discussions with the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Ted Lilly, a former Yank, and
according to a tweet by ESPN’s Buster Olney, they are working on a deal for a
back-up third baseman.

 

Regardless of what happens, the Rays are guaranteed
of seeing faces tomorrow that weren’t present at Tropicana Field tonight.  I just hope that tomorrow doesn’t find Adam
Dunn in the opposing dugout.

 

At least the Boston Red Sox lost tonight…



 

–Scott

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